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Opinion

Super Rugby tipping panel week 12: Toot, toot, coming through

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Expert
4th May, 2022
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Well, well, well. We have a new leader, and it’s not Harry or me. It’s you lot.

And more to the point, Geoff has also stormed through the pack like the little tipster that could to post the best round of what really was a great weekend of rugby, albeit a bloody hard one to pick. Considering how tight the first five games of the weekend were, we could very easily have a completely different set of results too.

What that means for this weekend coming, then, is anyone’s guess.

Almost certainly Harry’s “every single Australian team … will lose” from last week will just no longer apply as a default setting. Of those aforementioned first five games last weekend, the biggest winning margin was four points, and there’s no question it was a massive weekend for the Australian teams. And it was a massive weekend for the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika too, losing by three and four points respectively.

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Four of the six games are back on the eastern side of the ditch this weekend coming, so the first question becomes one of balancing current form with the need to travel. How much will the latter affect the former? The Reds and Force remain home in Round 12 but lost games they had chances to win last weekend. Will COVID recovery let the Force back up well enough to give the Crusaders another headache? Was holding out the Drua by a whisker the spark the Highlanders need to keep the brake on the Reds’ advance?

If last weekend was a fascinating weekend of rugby, then this weekend will be even fascinating-er.

More table movement is just about guaranteed.

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Last week

Geoff 5, the Crowd 4, Harry and Digger 3, Brett 2.

Overall

The Crowd 46, Harry and Geoff 45, Brett 44, Digger 42

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Mark Nawaqanitawase of the Waratahs scores a try.

(Photo by Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Geoff

Blues, Reds, Moana Pasifika, Chiefs, Crusaders, Hurricanes

Melbourne Cup jockeys abide by an age-old creed: never find yourself in front at the top of the straight. In that sense, last week’s catch-up came a couple of hundred metres too early. Now, instead of biding my time, waiting to pounce, the sound of hooves is deafening and my head is spinning in all directions. Suddenly every match feels much tougher to tip.

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So without any deal of confidence, it’s both home teams, the Blues and the Reds, on Friday night. The trickiest match for me comes early on Saturday, when Moana Pasifika get to play for the first time at home without crowd restrictions. It feels like they’re close to a win. But the Tahs are well organised on defence and high on confidence.

As are the Brumbies, who visit Hamilton. This one all comes down to Sam Cane’s baby and who makes it onto the team sheet for the Chiefs.

The Crusaders have had some rough nights in Perth before, but Force fans will be wishing this match had come after an easy 40-point win, not a sobering loss accompanied by a Razor rev-up. To finish, if the Hurricanes spill as much ball in the midfield as they did last week, the Drua will punish them. But this isn’t a game they should be dropping.

Sure thing

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Waning interest in Super Rugby in New Zealand, previously said to be because of lopsided results, is now all of a sudden put down to NZ teams starting to lose matches. Of course issues run far deeper. Who at NZ Rugby is brave enough to tear up a model that is no longer fit for purpose and tip Super Rugby into a properly resourced, semi-autonomous commission that can refresh and re-elevate the competition?

Veikoso Poloniati of Moana Pasifika is tackled.

(Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Digger

Blues, Highlanders, Waratahs, Brumbies, Crusaders, Hurricanes

There have been a few seasons where certain rounds have proved tricky to predict, but this is the first time I can remember such uncertainty over the games on a weekend. It can only be good for the competition as a whole, as I am pretty sure I will not be the only one!

Friday night, the competition-leading Blues at home should be a no brainer while over in Brisbane, I really just do not know. Neither side fills me with great confidence, to be frank, and the Highlanders have been on the road for three weeks. The absence of both James O’Connor and Taniela Tupou as well as the Reds’ unconvincing approach in recent weeks have me finally settling on the Clan. Maybe.

Saturday shapes as a very entertaining day. I think the Waratahs and Moana Pasifika will be a cracker and I suspect the Tahs may squeak this one out, having a little more momentum under the belt. It has proven to be plain silly to back against the Crusaders after a loss. Brumbies and Chiefs, however, is a real migraine inducer.

There’s no argument the Brumbies appear to be the best performing Australian side against Kiwi opposition and have dispatched the fourth and fifth best in relevant comfort in the past few weeks, and they now make their first trip to NZ to face the third-ranked Chiefs. I will tip the Brumbies here on account of them seeming to be the best side to come up with and stick to plans for their opposition but also because at the time of writing I do not know who the Chiefs will have available to select.

We round it all off on Sunday with what promises to be a great spectacle for the neutral and incredible frustration for Hurricanes fans. Canes should be good enough at home – should be. Please just get it done.

Sure thing

Nothing. Nothing is assured except for some plonker of a Kiwi opinion that Super Rugby is in trouble because the Warriors were playing on a TV in a pub in Auckland (where they are based) and not the Highlanders (who are based in Dunedin) playing the Fijian Drua at the same time. I mean, who would have thunk it?

Harry

Blues, Waratahs, Chiefs, Crusaders, Hurricanes

I don’t know. I just don’t know. All I thought I knew has been disproved. Faith is gone. Science debunked.

All I am left with is my gut. By this stage in any tournament I just go with point differential with a caveat for injury and momentum.

So the Blues should put the Rebels down. The Reds should quell the Highlanders from an uprising.

The Moana Pasifika should scare the porno-sounding Waratahs but in the end fall to the Ginger Playmaker. Unless they can kick and defend mauls a bit better.

The Chiefs-Brumbies match is the best test of the top Aussie team since the cross-ditch games began. I’ll take the home side. The Force will not be able to contain the Crusaders, whose coach is likely not surfing as much this week and probably using razor-sharp language. And the brave Drua will probably not win at the Cake Tin.

Sure thing

Ian Foster will be watching with hands over his eyes as guys like Dalton Papalii make 30 tackles, with Shannon Frizell and Sam Cane already banged up.

Marino Mikaele-Tu'u of the Highlanders is tackled by Vinaya Habosi of Fijian Drua.

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Brett

Blues, Reds, Waratahs, Brumbies, Crusaders, Hurricanes

Well, I knew a rough week was coming. It was always going to happen, and all I could do was hope the damage would be minimal and manageable. It was neither.

And the worst of it now is that it’s going to be really hard to make up ground and really easy to lose it. So this weekend could be anything.

The Blues should be too good for the Rebels, but we said that about the Crusaders last week too! But the game following on Friday night is a genuine coin flip. I don’t know how much faith to put in the Reds set piece without their major scrum plank, but then the Highlanders aren’t really asking too many questions of defences. And I guess it’s probably easier to manage games at home than away. So Queensland, I guess.

The first Saturday game isn’t much easier though. Moana Pasifika at home could be anything, but I worry about their chronic lack of points going into a game like this. They’ve scored a little over half the Waratahs’ tally this season, have the second-worst goal-kicking record in the comp and have taken the fewest shots at goal by a long way. They’ve only kicked five from six penalty goals alone! Tane Edmed is kicking at 85 per cent, meanwhile.

Chiefs-Brumbies will be a genuine belter. It’s certainly a bit of the unknown around how close to the published list the Chiefs will run out with, but that kind of adds to the intrigue, I think. The Brumbies are chasing a third straight win over New Zealand opposition for the first time since 2014, but the last time they won in New Zealand was just prior to that little pandemic thingy hitting in March 2020, indeed in Hamilton, the city of the future.

And then the Crusaders and the Hurricanes to finish. Might be pretty comfortable.

Sure thing

Nervous monitoring of the tipping sheet across the weekend to see if the aforementioned ground is made up or lost.

Round 12HarryGeoffDiggerBrettThe Crowd
Overall4545424446
Last week35324
BLU v REBBluesBluesBluesBluesBlues
RED v HIGRedsRedsHighlandersRedsReds
MOA v WARWaratahsMoana PasifikaWaratahsWaratahsWaratahs
CHI v BRUChiefsChiefsBrumbiesBrumbiesBrumbies
FOR v CRUCrusadersCrusadersCrusadersCrusadersCrusaders
HUR v DRUHurricanesHurricanesHurricanesHurricanesHurricanes

Get your votes in now – The Crowd’s tips will be revealed Friday afternoon.

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